Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Controversial Speeches/Cases

It's a classic scenario. You have a wicked awesome idea for a speech: say, a persuasive. A particularly controversial persuasive. You plan out your three points. You're working on a thesis statement. You've almost got your opener down when you decide to run the idea by your parents. Bad idea. At least, that's what you think later. Because your parents squished that speech idea like someone might squish a spider in a piece of toilet paper. It's disgusting. There go all of your hopes and dreams. Squish.
It could happen with debate cases. All it takes is one judge, one judge who does not appreciate an edgy case. Hey, plans have to be debatable, right? Isn't that the point? But there goes that one. Squish.
We like doing controversial stuff. I am no exception. My first OI had the word "bloody" in the title. My second taught that money can buy happiness and/or love. My humorous "made fun of Christians," according to some judges. My DI didn't even have a death scene! Ok, my pieces haven't been too terribly controversial, but unique to be sure. Well, my duo kinda was. And a persuasive I wanted to do next year. It got squished.
You're homeschooled, and that's probably a controversy in and of itself.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Interping Death Scenes

I had a character who killed someone in an interp. I have also been killed. Then I played a dead body which was lifted up and put back down. Oddly enough, these did not happen in my DI. And we all know what the D stands for: Death. Or Depressing. Mostly Death. No, my DI from my first year only had one death. And I didn't even act it out. No wonder some judges didn't think it was that "dramatic." Real dramatic interpers are suckers for death scenes. Call me evil, but those are fun. How often do you get to have your neck snapped and live to tell the tale? Depends on how often you practice your speech.

Girls in particular are all over dying in interps. Girls are extremely dramatic, so DIs are a good fit. And here's the thing: we're all going to die, and we don't get to stick around and see how sad people are and how much they miss us when we're gone. But if we can get people crying when they see us die in a speech? Score.
We're just horrible, morbid people I suppose. What are you going to do about it? We like death. Dying. Dead things. That's why DI finals rooms are always wayy more crowded than HI rooms.
Hahahaha. Just kidding
You're homeschooled. Drama queen.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

When Really Good Competitors Go Away

In my plural years of speech and not debate, I've learned a thing or two. One thing I learned is that no competitor can stay forever. It doesn't matter if you're a super super super super super duper senior. If you're doing a duo with your son, they kick you out. Everyone must leave eventually. Even the really good people. It's bittersweet:
First you may think:
1) YES HE'S GONE! My least favorite person who I respect and fear a lot for being a skilled debater is switching to the other kind of debate! Or that amazing IE guy is graduating! Maybe someone else can win "his event" now!
It could hit you like this:
2) Oh no. I didn't realize he was a senior last year. That's so sad. He's leaving. I'll never debate him again. And her... I'll never watch another speech of hers again. She's an amazing speaker. I'll miss her. :sadface:
It is sad when people leave. Move on. Graduate. Go away. Especially when they're you're friends. Or they're just awesome. And so many people are.
Then again...
THE SENIORS ARE GONE AND I'M IN THE UPPER CLASS NOW. YES. I'm not a novice anymore, or a junior higher, or a freshman, or anything I was before. This is a new realm of competition, people, and I am determined to be at the top.
You're homeschooled. As much I don't like you for being awesome, please don't go away.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Staying at The Same Hotel as Your Friends at Tournaments

I like hotels. I like carrying room keys in my back pocket and then whipping them out and opening the door like magic. I like walking down long hallways and feeling like I own the place because I slept there last night. I like hotel lobbies, especially big ones with giant chandeliers. But my favorite part of hotels is the elevators. And there's nothing more enjoyable in an elevator than having that silvery door slide open to reveal someone you know. Someone you totally didn't expect to be there. Someone who is either wearing a suit or pajamas.

What's also fun is breakfast. I mean, breakfast is always fun, but especially when you go downstairs and find a bunch of your speech and debate buddies eating Belgian waffles and sipping orange juice together. At a tournament last season, they had a smallish breakfast area, and when I was there, every person also eating was from my club. Ok, there were a few exceptions, but those people were in speech and debate too. It was fun.

I like when you realize you know your neighbors. My club often stays at the same hotel at each competition, or at least a lot of us do, and one time a bunch of us ended up on the same floor. It's fun to wave to people you know who happen to be staying near you, or even right next to you and you don't even know it until you both head down for breakfast at the same time and then share the elevator.

One last fun thing about hotels: sleepovers. I went to a tournament this year without my parents, so I hitched a ride up with one family and stayed the night in their room. The other nights I crashed with another family, and rode back home with them. It was super cool. I had those two families and a couple others who sort of adopted me, making sure I had a ride to and from the tournament each day and making sure I had food. Like, breakfast.

You're homeschooled, and you like... that.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cross-Ex Etiquette

"Good morning. What is your name again? I didn't catch it."
"Um, Chandler."
"How are you today, Chandler?"
"I'm good, thanks. What about you?"
"I'm doing fantastic. How do like this weather?"
"It's... it's nice."
"How has the tournament been going for you?"
"It's... it's good. Uh, and you?"
"It's great! What do you think of this year's resolution?"
"Um... what?"
Timer holds up 10 fingers
Panic mode "Ok, so about your plan. Willitsolveforalloftheproblemsineveryimaginableuniverseever?"
"Yes. Yes, it will."

Is this an extreme example? Yea. But our Cross-Ex etiquette can be a bit absurd. I mean, by the rebuttals, everyone has been asked and answered how they're doing twice. Why are we so polite? I don't know. But I think it's funny.

You're homeschooled. How are you doing today?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Having Your Name Correctly Pronounced at a Tournament- Thea Dunlevie

(Here's another fantasic guest post from Thea Dunlevie! Be sure to check out her blog: Totally Thea.)

Maybe this is just the result of having a confusing name, but I really do not have one name.  It changes so often, it can be anywhere from Tabitha to Tea.  Yes, like the drink.  I have tried everything, from slightly changing the pronunciation of my name to putting the phonetic pronunciation next to my name.  Anyhow, getting your name pronounced correctly is a blessing.  In fact, I remember actually praying for it once.  And God answered my prayer.

It all started on a cold, windy oh-my-gosh-it’s-the-first-day-of-a-tournament morning.  I leaped out of bed, quickly rousing all the family members, who are not as crazy as I and don’t enjoy waking up at 6AM.  We hurried out the door.  I arrived at the tournament, winged some impromptus, gave an OI, almost passed out ... you know, the usual.  Finally, the tournament ended and the awards ceremony was about to begin.  I was talking with some fellow club members and said, “How much do you want to bet they won’t pronounce my name right?”  Everyone laughed. Thea actually being pronounced Thea?  What has our society come to?  I actually prayed.  I thought why not.  We had our little chuckle and then the ceremony began.  I usually do not even listen to my name being called, I just look on the screen if I can.  This time was different.  I heard the sound tay-uh.  It was a similar feeling to “I JUST WON THE LOTTERY, BABY!”  I also was kind of weirded out because I figured this man must be psych or something.  I heard him talking to some of the other people in line and he was asking, “Are you Thea?  Are you Thea?”  Finally, he got to me and I proudly replied that I was Thea.  

“Oh, you’re Thea Dunlevie!  Your mom came up to me and requested that I pronounce your name this way.  Is it correct?”
The shocked me finally closed my mouth and managed to get the words out, “Yes, why yes it is!”  That man just got placed on a pedastol above all others in my mind.  He pronounced my name right!  

Lots of things happen at award ceremonies, people get awards (gasp), go up on stage, get their names messed up, but none of it is in vain.  I love award ceremonies.  What I love more than those is having two idenities.  Tay-uh Duhn-leh-vee is my evil twin.  So fear not all you people with complex names, you are not alone.  I am sure your twin is always getting confused with you, too.  You have a unique name and appreciate the correct pronunciation of it.

You’re homeschooled, and you have an evil twin.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Changing Out Of Your Suit In Between Rounds

The other day, I saw this guy who I knew from speech and debate, but he seemed like he was ignoring me. I thought, oh well, we're not really great friends or anything. But I eventually said hi to him. He looked at me oddly and asked:
"What is your name?"

Then he hugged me. I felt better.

With rare exception, I'm not the kind of person who changes out of her suit much at tournaments, so I guess it makes sense that someone wouldn't recognize me. My friends from my club may not recognize me when I am in a suit because they're used to my Disney shirts and Converse that come up to my knees, but that's a different problem. Actually, I don't think it's a problem.

Anyway, it can be fun to put on normal clothes at competitions. Pretty much the only time I did this was when I had three speeches at NITOC and they were all in Pattern A... that was exciting. I barely wore my suit at that tournament, because I wasn't competing for a lot of the time. The one thing I always do is change my shoes or socks, because tournament shoes can hurt, man.

You're homeschooled, and you look funny in normal clothes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Being a Judge

I recently participated in a practice debate tournament where lots of judges were needed. We had a handful of parents and a number of willing alumni. But we also had many many even more willing competitors who didn't break and wanted to try their hand at judging. And what's weird is that they actually got to. I, however, felt myself totally unqualified to judge debate and timed my first round instead. I did a pretty good job. But my friends who were, for the first time ever, filling out debate ballots had a lot of fun too. Some of them actually chucked their biases out the window and voted against their friends, which is weird, but cool that they could do that. Except not cool for the friends.

One time, in a practice round, I was debating with a friend of mine and another one of my friends was judging us. He turned to the other team and said, "I'll try to be unbiased even though I like them better." We won fair and square.
Even though I'd make an awful debate judge, I really enjoy "judging" speech. You'll notice I put that in quotation marks. That's because it isn't really judging. It's critiquing and giving feedback and advice and suggestions. It's fun. I've learned who will actually consider my advice and who won't, so at least I'm not annoying. I hope.
So being a judge is fun, or at least that's what they tell me. The seniors always get excited to come back and judge once we kick them out of the league. They obviously know what's up.
You're homeschooled. Don't judge me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Your Dream Case

It was Nationals. This last one, I mean. Having watched about... nine LD rounds that tournament at this point, my mind was buzzing with thoughts of government legitimacy, popular sovereignty, and individual rights. I had an aff case written in my head. I couldn't help it. I knew exactly what I would've said, but I hadn't seen anyone saying it yet. Which was a bit frustrating. That is, until round 10. Let me back up a bit: round 9 I saw a very good debate where I thought the neg guy deserved to win even though I disagreed with everything he said. Round 10: I went with some friends to watch a round and the same guy who was neg the day before was aff now. He wasn't very far into the first speech when my eyes got wide and my jaw may/may not have dropped. Not only was he contradicting every word he had said in the last round, which was hilarious, he was also saying EXACTLY WHAT I WOULD'VE SAID. Finally! I have since described this guy's affirmative on several occasions as "my dream case, but better."

Yes, the debate nerd inside of me had a dream. A dream case, that is. A case that I would've loved to run, so I was absolutely thrilled to see someone else do it (but better) since I couldn't. Maybe this year I'll have a dream case that I actually will get to run. Somehow I doubt they'll let me do that. I tend to have crazy ideas. It's kind of fun envisioning that perfect case. Some of my "perfect cases" for Policy this year would be so extremely not Topical that I'm pretty sure they wouldn't fly. Like, cut funding to Obama's teleprompter. Heheh. My dream case for LD.... wait, promise you won't steal it? Ok. Thank you. My dream case for LD would involve the phrase, "My value is chocolate." I'm pretty sure personal freedom better upholds chocolate than economic security, but I can see how the latter gets the job done too. That's kind of a cool thing about LD, is that you get TWO cases to pour your heart and soul into. Or something. Waait a second, I could value chocolate in both of my cases!! Yes! Would they kick me out of the secret society if I did that? Hmm.

You're homeschooled. You have a dream.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Next Year

This picture from speechranks makes me very, very excited. If you've been stalking the website lately, you'll notice that the homepage has changed. It may seem that it has nothing to report. It may seem to be saying:
"Nothing to see here. Go away. Or change the season from the drop-down thing and carry on with your stalking."
That... that sort of is what it's saying, yes, BUT it's also saying a whole lot more.
At first, seeing this made me excited. I'm excited because the 2011-2012 season is coming, and before I know it, there will be numbers and events and hopefully checkmarks and other such information under my name. I'm excited because soon I'll be starting another year in speech and a brandnew adventure in debate. I'm excited to see what competition and speechranks and life holds for me.

Also, I'm nervous. I'm nervous because, like the rest of the speech and debate world, I'm sooo not ready for the season to start. Sure, I've been preparing for next year. Sure, I've been trying somewhat successfully to find speeches.  Sure, I've been to a couple camps. Sure, I spent several hours today on Google and at the library judging books by their covers to see if they would make good HIs. BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN I WANT NEXT YEAR TO START ALREADY. Fortunately, I still have several more months and, of course, a lot more work to do.

But you know what I just remembered?
No one else is ready either.
And that makes me feel a lot better.
Because as far as next year goes, I have several ridiculous goals for myself that I hope to meet, and it's going to be fun.

You're homeschooled. See you next year.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chuck Norris- Felicity Lorenz

(If you loved her last post as much as I did, then I'm sure you're super excited to read Felicity's latest guest post. Enjoy!)

I don’t really understand this obsession. Yet, I feel like a Chuck Norris joke has to be dropped in every speech/debate conversation. Sometimes, the joke is not even funny. Still, everyone’s hollering up a storm, like that was funnier than how Osama Bin Laden totally harshed on Kate Middleton’s wedding hype (which, by the way, was pretty funny). No matter what type of speaker or debater you are, all life’s problems are solved by Chuck Norris’ awesomeness:
Chuck Norris won 1st place Expos, by only showing his fist.
Only Chuck Norris can win all his affirmative debates, by negating the resolution.
Chuck Norris doesn’t need Impromptu examples – he is the example.
Chuck Norris says: “Today, my value will be Pain. My criterion will be your face.”
Chuck Norris’ OI had one character – himself.
My rights end where Chuck Norris’ fist begins. 
Chuck Norris doesn’t need to be persuasive; he just inflicts fear.
You’re homeschooled, and you like Chuck Norris. Pachow!
(Chuck Norris jokes © Felicity Lorenz)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Impromptu: Quotes vs. Abstracts

Kids who compete in impromptu tend to have a preference as to whether they prefer quotes over terms, phrases, pictures, ect. The cool kids call these more vague topics "abstracts." Ok, everyone calls them that. And I guess since we're homeschooled, none of us are cool. But anyway. We like quotes or abstracts. And since we're the argumentative type, (don't you dare say, "No, we aren't!") we can be pretty passionate about which side of the impromptu topic spectrum we prefer. For example:
Quotes are clearly the way to go. I mean, really, they tend to just come up with and state your theme of your speech for you. You get a quote like "In a gentle way, you can shake the world." from Gandhi and the speech practically writes itself. Gentleness. B00M. Done. Plus, you sound way smarter quoting Gandhi rather than saying "My topic is whipped cream" or something else that is abstract and therefore completely random and vague. Plus, maybe you can even use the guy who said the quote as an example and blow your judges' minds with your superior knowledge and awesomeness. Can't do that with an abstract now, can ya? I didn't think so. Another advantage: quotes can get pretty wordy. Abstracts tend to be one word or a only a couple words. Long quotes mean less time you have to fill up in your intro and conclusion. Just read the quote. If you're kinda stuck, read it again for "dramatic effect." And sometimes, the abstracts are pictures. They aren't even words! What kind of a speech topic is that? Where am I supposed to go with this? And do you know how awkward it is if you have to show your judges your impromptu picture topic? Ridiculous. Quotes are better, because they spell out your thesis for you and make the whole speech easier.
Of course, let's not forget:
Obviously, abstracts are the better option. I mean, you can go a ton of different directions on an abstract. Take, for example, "flat tire." You can relate a flat tire to something bad that happens. You can show that flat tires are unexpected occurrences and talk about those. You can explain that flat tires can be repaired and you just keep on rolling. You can discuss the importance of keeping a spare, or of being prepared for the flat tires in your life. You can talk about all of these things in one speech and more, because your topic isn't super specific and gives you that kind of freedom. Plus, it's really hard to misinterpret an abstract. With quotes, it's super easy to do it wrong. Another advantage: the abstracts are short. You don't have to waste half your prep time reading wordy quotes and attempting to properly interpret them according to the judges' subjective standards. Just read the abstract terms, choose one, and B00M, you've still got 1 minute and 50 seconds of prep time remaining.  And sometimes, the abstracts are pictures. That means even less prep time is wasted reading because you just have to look at your topics! And homeschoolers can't read, anyway. With abstracts, especially pictures, you're allowed a lot more liberty and creativity in choosing a thesis. 
My first year in speech, I was terrified of impromptu. I couldn't imagine why anyone would do it, especially with an abstract topic. I totally thought quotes were the way to go because they make it a lot easier to decide what you're talking about. Then I forced myself to do impromptu and quickly changed my mind. After giving my second ever impromptu speech on "Giant Sequoia," a color on a paint chip, I realized how much easier I can breathe with an abstract. I can do whatever the heck I want with that topic and not misinterpret it! It's great! ABSTRACTS FTW!!

So, where do you stand?
You're homeschooled, and you like quotes. Or abstracts. Or neither. Or both. Or something.  MAKE UP YOUR MIND.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Looking Back on Your Novice Days and Laughing

I've probably mentioned before that I came into speech and debate knowing absolutely nothing. About speech and debate, I mean. Ahh, those were the days. I remember people telling me to look on the NCFCA website to check the rules on something. In fact, about four people told me that before I finally figured out they were saying N-C-F-C-A and not "Enseeifseea" or something because they said it so fast. I don't think I figured it out until someone wrote it down. I remember hearing that I qualified for nationals after my first tournament (back when you only needed one checkmark) and asking around to see if that was true and what it actually meant. I remember realizing that breaking is actually a good thing. I remember the first LD round I ever saw and how fascinated I was and later, the first Policy round I saw and how confused I was. I remember my novice impromptu days where I would decide in prep time to use one example and then accidentally tell them in the intro that I was using another. Man, I remember lots of stuff, because really, it wasn't that long ago. 
Whatever ridiculous things you may have thought or done, it's fun to look back on your days as a first-year and smile. It's fun to think, why did I think that would make a good interp or platform? Or, what was I thinking when I gave that impromptu speech? Or you could be like me and watch old videos of your speech and think, "Oh. That's why they told me to slow down." Or you can remember how excited you were to finally be able to give a minute long impromptu. Or two minutes. Or three, or four, or -gasp- FIVE. You can remember the people you hung out with and the people who started the same year as you and see how much you all have grown. 'Cause you've gone through a lot together since your novice year, and that's a fun thing to smile and laugh about.  
You're homeschooled, and it's true what they say. We grow up so fast.